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Large amounts of taxpayer dollars lost to waste, fraud: SIGAR

Large amounts of taxpayer dollars lost to waste, fraud: SIGAR

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May 06, 2015 - 10:26

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): With more than $110 billion already being appropriated for reconstructing Afghanistaninfo-icon, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstructioninfo-icon (SIGAR) John F. Sopko on Tuesday rued that from the outset to this very day, large amounts of taxpayer dollars have been lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.

To put things into some perspective, the $110 billion already appropriated for reconstructing Afghanistan, after adjusting for inflation, exceeds the value of the entire Marshall Plan effort to rebuild Western Europe after Worldinfo-icon War II, Sopko said in address to the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

“Unfortunately, from the outset to this very day, large amounts of taxpayer dollars have been lost to waste, fraud, and abuse,” he said.

SIGAR professionals have documented details of US-funded clinics that lack staff or medicines, schools that can collapse on their occupants because of shoddy construction, contracts that weren't performed properly or at all, aircraft that the Afghans can't fly or even maintain, troop rosters that can't be verified, cash assistance that can't be traced, and many other outrages.

“These disasters often occur when the US officials who implement and oversee programs fail to distinguish fact from fantasy,” he said. Sorting fact from fantasy in Afghanistan can be a challenge, Sopko said.

“But just as doctors must be willing to face the truth about whether a treatment is working, we in the United States must be willing to face the truth, and acknowledge the uncertainties, about our programs and policies if we want reconstruction to succeed. And it's important that we do succeed,” he added.

Sopko said for both humanitarian and national-security reasons, the US mission to reconstruct Afghanistan is critical. “And with $15 billion currently awaiting disbursement, with billions more to follow, there is both need to improve the effectiveness of the effort, and time to make a difference in the outcome,” he said.

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